I will admit, my aversion to spicy foods often means I have to go through great pains in Thai and Indian restaurants to ensure my tongue enjoys the flavors and instead of suffering from them. Moroccan and Indian food, though, does not revolve around spiciness (few foods do...maybe some Texas 5-alarm chili...). What I enjoy about the flavors of Morocco, is that it uses flavors that are more often seen in desserts and incorporates them with some popular Hispanic seasonings in ways that will surprise your tongue without scorching it. I found this recipe for Moroccan-spiced scallops and lentils from Bon Appetit magazine. As a side dish, I made some simple, pan-steamed cauliflower seasoned with salt and curry powder (enough to give the dish some flavor). The scallops turned out tender with a good amount of flavor. The lentils provided a filling side dish that tasted good (I cooked them correctly this time, unlike the last time when they were a little slimy and tasted of mud). I did tread too carefully on the curry powder in the cauliflower, but it tasted fine. All in all, I did manage to preserve the flavors of North Africa without having to breathe fire.
Macadamias are a delicious nut, probably because of the high fat content. While I do not partake of them often, they are part of one of my favorite cookies: white chocolate macadamia cookies. They can also make a good crust for meats (including fish, as you can often find in Hawai'i where some of the nuts are harvested) as well as a good crust for a cheesecake (a dessert recipe from Dr. Atkins). Anyways, enough blather. The gist is, I bought macadamias for a dessert I wanted to make and had some left over to try a different take on an Italian classic.
Pesto is usually made with pine nuts. But my mountain of macadamias made me make a substitute:
1.5 cups basil
0.5 cup macadamia nuts, salted
4 cloves garlic, minced
0.75 cup olive oil
0.75 cup Parmesan
0.5 tsp salt
0.25 tsp pepper
Food process the first 3 ingredients until smooth. Keep the processor running and stream in the olive oil. Add the remaining ingredients and finish mixing. I grilled up some steaks to top with this pesto. Many people love to mix peas into their mashed potatoes. I made a side dish where you mash the peas right into the potatoes. After boiling some potatoes until tender, mash in thawed peas, butter, milk, salt, pepper, and chopped scallions. This is technically a meat and potatoes type of meal, just with some interesting innovations.
More interviewees this weekend, so more desserts. The reason I had the macadamias in the first place was to make these double-decker macadamia brownie bars (Fine Cooking magazine). The brownie layer is actually made in a saucepan. Butter is melted, to which sugar, cocoa powder and salt is added. Then eggs, vanilla and flour are stirred in. This is baked slightly while the macadamia layer is made. The top layer is made from brown sugar, flour, light corn syrup, butter, egg, macadamias, and coconut. This is added to the top of the brownie layer, then cooked until golden brown. The brownie layer turned out nicely fudgy and the macadamia-coconut layer added a deliciously nutty-coconutty flavor.